Improved Wysteria (Book 2#) Cover

Mysterious Wysteria Cat Watermark

Here is the improved cover for my second book, which will be available again as soon as it passes through Createspace checks. This piece is one of my very favorites, and it depicts Rowan sitting by the Wysteria ocean at sunset.

Tools used to create this:

Colored pencils and imagination.

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The Continued Adventures of Writer Cat

Hello everyone, and thank you for visiting my website!

The adventure of kitty continues when he and Peter discover the library’s cozy, eclectic attic. Keep checking back to read more about the story of a writer cat and his friend 🙂

I also happen to be on Deviantart: 

jwriter89.deviantart.com/gallery/

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Book Review of Aria of The Sea

Book Review of Aria of The Sea by Dia Calhoun

Review By Stella Brians

aria of the sea

Several months ago, I found this book at a library book sale and was intrigued by the whimsical yet old fashioned cover art. It is beautiful hard bound book, and the particular copy that I have is pretty rare.

I meant to review this book back in July, but things became busy and hectic.

Aria of The Sea is a book about a girl of thirteen, Cerinthe. Cerinthe is reeling from the death of her mother, and wants very much to become a dancer (ballet) and to become educated at The School of The Royal Dancers in Windward. She has a great deal of trouble getting in, and when she thinks that she does not, she decides to work as a maid, or “smudge” for the dancing school.

Eventually, she is able to attend the school as a dancer, but a spoiled girl who also studies there called Elliana does not want her to feel welcome. Throughout the novel, Elliana tortures, belittles, and manipulates poor Cerinthe. Cerinthe has to deal with many emotions and troubles for a thirteen year old. She is homesick, and misses the seaside where she lived with her parents. Her father is a fisherman, and it seems to me that they do not have a close relationship. She wants very badly to do well as a dancer, and is always so exhausted. Her teachers are rarely friendly, and worst of all these things, she blames herself for her mother’s death.

In this poetic, dreamlike fantasy world that Dia Calhoun has created, young people have more freedom than they do in ours. Cerinthe attends the school completely alone, and without any (or very little, at least) contact with her father. She walks around the city alone. Another relationship Cerinthe is  assaulted with, is with a boy around her age. His name is Thordon, and he works with ships in the harbor. He is not very nice, or interesting, despite his beautiful name. Thordon also turns out to be manipulative in the end.

Despite her missing her family and home, Cerinthe designs a beautiful dance which she called Aria of The Sea, in honor of her deity, The Sea Maid. She writes it so that she may hear The Sea Maid sing to her again, but nothing seems to be working. Anyway,  Elliana ruins the dance, by taking it from Cerinthe and using it for disgraceful ends.

All of these events lead up to a very important choice that Cerinthe must make. She has the gift of healing, but she is not aware of this fact until she meets with a healer who insists that she should study with them instead.

But Cerithne loves dancing, and must make a choice, She must stop blaming herself for her mother’s untimely death, and at thirteen take the path that is truly right for her.

Dia Calhoun’s writing is very special, because she writes in her own very individual way that is gentle, whimsical, and very sincere. I truly felt that I was there at the ballet school, and amongst the waves of the ocean. I felt connected to the novel and to Cerinthe, and I think that anyone who has ever identified as different in some way will feel the same.

Aria of The Sea is a novel ideal for any age.

I now own and look forward to reading its sequel: The Phoenix Dance.

Delving Into History With The Otis Library

In 1989, I was born in Hartford Connecticut to two really smart and creative people. Early on, I wanted to write and create books. I briefly tried acting and ballet, but what I really wanted to do was to write and eventually create art. We moved to Norwich in the very early nineties, where I spent a great deal of time at the Otis Library. It was the coolest place to me back then, especially before the renovation. I love old buildings, because of the history and architecture but also because I find them so interesting. There is a sense of mystery to them that I can’t always put into the words I would quite like to.

We were friendly with the librarians, and familiar with the children’s section. There was a cave, and a wall mural featuring a wizard, knight, and princess standing before a castle in the distance. The Otis Library had one of the finest young adult collections I have ever seen (although it is different now I suspect.) They had the original Three Investigators Series, The Escape to Witch Mountain books, all of The Hardy Boys books, as well as the Cherry Ames Nurse Series. There were many others, and I spent so much of my childhood immersed in these books. The Otis Library had the best activities for children, and the librarians were always so kind.

Recently, I read online about something called The Jim Lafayette Writers Series for science fiction and fantasy writers. I had no idea that this event had been going on for a decade, and I really wish that I had known because I would have loved to be a part of it in some way. Jim Lafayette was a young man who passed away at age 26 due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Disease.

He spent a great deal of time reading and writing science fiction, and this allowed him to escape being confined to his wheelchair. I was deeply moved by his story, the story of such an intelligent and creative person whose life ended far too soon. Jim graduated from Norwich Free Academy (the same school as myself) in 1995. He then went onto Connecticut College and graduated with honors in English. His parents donated his large science fiction collection to The Otis Library, which I found fascinating. I myself have looked through the science fiction and fantasy section there myself and might have come across his books.

I find Mr. Layfayette’s legacy very touching because he was a writer like myself and also sketched as I do. I had no idea that this very cool person once existed in the town of Norwich, CT that I grew up in. I wish I had known a long time ago. He is also inspiring to me because although he had a handicap, he went to school and studied what he loved. He immersed himself in reading and writing science fiction, and also wrote a weekly video game review for The Norwich Bulletin.

In my own ways in life I have struggled, of course, very differently and much less severe than Jim Layfayette. My depression and anxiety have made things very difficult for me, and my writing and art are a way for me to express myself and share my life in a positive way with others. My goal is to turn what troubles me into something beautiful instead– be it a book, a painting, or a drawing.

The yearly event features writers of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but this time was different. This time song and performance was incorporated with the literature being read as I understand it. I very much hope to attend this event in the future. Thank you to the Otis Library and to others for keeping his memory alive.

To Learn More About The Jim Layfayette Writers Series:

http://www.otislibrarynorwich.org/lafayette-writers/

http://www.theday.com/article/20170624/NWS01/170629609

 

Roadside by Angie Dokos, a Book Review

Roadside by Angie Dokos, a Book Review

by Stella Brians

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Ms. Dokos was kind enough to send me a copy of her book for an honest, and well thought out review.

Roadside is a romantic novel about a young woman who is assaulted and left for dead in the woods. She is then discovered by Levi, a detective, and his son Zayne. Her name is Serena, and she is a college student who works at a convenience store. Serena managed to  fight off her attacker (who is later identified) and crawl to the edge of the road where she is found and rescued.

What I liked about Roadside was  the packaging; the cover was simple and cute, and it remained tasteful in that aspect, while other romance novels tend to show naked people clinging to each other in some kind of ridiculous embrace.

Roadside was different. The  lovable macaroni and cheese orange font, complete with heart and a calming photo of a nice road surrounded by trees was a refreshing change. Another thing I liked was that the novel kept you interested in the characters, Serena’s recovery, the discovery of her attacker, and her relationship with Zayne. These four factors lead the plot until the end, which is a very positive thing.

What I did not like about the story was the writing style, because it felt a bit rushed and that it needed more work. I wish that the characters were older, and not college aged because they seem a bit immature and silly and that took away from the story for me. The last thing I did not like was the constant mention of religious elements, and how it seemed to control how the characters acted and what they did. I am also not a fan of novels that take place in the South, but that is a personal preference and should not impact future readers views of this book.

Overall, Roadside is a great book for young people, and Ms. Dokos did a remarkable job engaging the reader throughout the book.

To Purchase Roadside:

 

Balloon Man Book Review

 

Balloon Man

by Frances Laskowski

Book Review

by Stella Brians

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 Horror has always been one of my favorite genres, so I was excited to read Balloon Man by Frances Laskowski. Set in Louisiana in present day, Laskowski tells the story of multiple people who together are all a part of Cooter’s (Balloon Man) story as a torturer and killer. She also tells the tales of all who are affected by him, and how they are able to survive and live a more positive life after Balloon Man puts them through the wringer. He is a filthy low life who hangs around a massive alligator known as Pyrrain, and kidnaps children by enchanting them with colorful balloons. I really enjoyed Balloon Man because in the ways of the women’s torture and survival it reminded me of my beloved V.C. Andrews. Laskowski has her own way of leading one chapter into the next, so that you are excited to make your way through the story. I can say that this is a great book for any time of the year. It would make a great beach read, a story for Halloween, or something to take with you on a long train ride! I look forward to reading more of Laskowski’s work. Something really unique to the Balloon Man novel, is that Frances wrote a song for the story.

You can listen to it here: 

To Purchase Balloon Man for Kindle, Paperback, or as an Audiobook:

Important Hidden World of Wysteria Series Announcement!

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Readers and Fans of The Hidden World of Wysteria Series, I have a special announcement!

River and Elizabeth will return as the main characters in the fourth book (and  very likely in  the other books as well!)

River is one of my favorite characters, and I wanted to write more about he and Elizabeth. I think that the series should focus more on them, now that we have explored other characters and areas of Wysteria. I have really enjoyed writing about Milo and Rowan (Book Two) and the Edgar and Aleka (Book Three) but I feel there is something missing. I have put something speacial into each of my characters–Milo has a kind and creative heart, Rowan, a wise soul. You will find Edgar and Aleka to be unique and fun, and I think many will find comfort in their identities.

However–

River and Elizabeth are each a part of me, in personality, insight, and eccentricity. It is time to revisit them.

I am still working on the third book–Beneath Rain and Stars, and it will take a while for it to be finished. I estimate it to be longer than Wysteria. What I like about it, is how at peace it makes me feel. It reminds me of home, and it has so much to do with my love of the Earth. If you love the Earth as I do, or are an introverted person who loves afternoon walks in the rain, Beneath Rain and Stars is for you.

I really look forward to its release, and to starting work on the fourth book in The Hidden World of Wysteria Series. I have some exciting things planned for the fourth, and even a working title.

Thank you to those who read and buy my books. My writing and artwork is in many ways my life force, and through it I share so many things of myself. Thank you for sharing this with me.

To Check out Stella’s Hidden World of Wysteria Series:

https://www.amazon.com/Stella-Brians/e/B01N3MEQ3Y

Getting Into The Very Soul Of Your Book

Getting Into the Very Soul of Your Book

Just a Few Writing Ideas

Article by Stella Brians

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From experience, I think that it’s best to write what we know, or that we can easily research. Growing up in New England, I always thought that it was so boring to live in the middle of nowhere. Later on in life I of course realized that this was not the case. I took what I knew from my historical neighborhood, loneliness, and rain and turned it into inspiration. Where I was from and who I was became fascinating. I love myself because I was unique and special.

***

When I write, I try to take what surrounded me in the past and what I hold onto in the present.

Rain. Where I grew up, there was always rain. I love the rain, and feel depressed when it’s sunny. In the worlds I create and live in as an author, it is usually autumn and nearly always raining. This leaves a calm backdrop for characters, and for the reader. Often my characters are going through an ordeal  in my stories and the rain is therapeutic.

Remember the way it used to be.

Modern life is pretty depressing and boring at times, because everything is done for us. I like to think back to a time when phone booths existed, people read paperback books, and computers were not such an integral part of life. There was a time when you had to be careful driving through Father Panik Village in Bridgeport, CT, and when people stuck needles in the change drop of phone booths.  When I write, it’s like taking a time machine back to before I was born, because I can research that, and there are certain things that I remember. There are songs that stick in my head from certain times that set the mood for my childhood. 

Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now played all the time on the radio, and I would hear it in the car or wherever we were going.  It reminds me of being about seven years old, and sitting in the back of my parents’ station wagon. It is an incredibly sincere and romantic song, and I think  that coupled with her voice certainly had an effect on me. I am sure that you have had this happen to you, perhaps in a different way or with another song. When I hear that song, I can remember Harkness Park and The Book Barn in Connecticut because it was likely playing in the car on the way over. It is these moments in life that help us develop a sense of what makes us personally happy. This is one of the many little pieces that aid us in our personal development as an author. Memories, and things that make only us  happy for a reason no one else understand. All I can say is to write about it, and somehow incorporate it into a character or  a story.

Writing your characters in a very sincere way, and writing a detailed story.

Life is very detailed, and modern film dilutes and speeds up everything. I have noticed that some people write in this same fashion, and it’s one of the first things that will make me put a book down.

Reading Anne Rice taught me how important it is to sweep your reader away with detail and completely submerge them in your world. If describing a scene, building, or setting takes a week it is time worth spent. 

Characters are fun, and it is good to branch out and use not only pieces from yourself but of other people as well. My brother’s friend who wore purple Converse hightops, our neighborhood cat lady who doubled as our school lunch lady, and the eccentric stained glass towers of the Victorian houses in our neighborhood are a few examples of unique world and character building. Make it your own and always your own.

Finally, immerse yourself in the world(s) you are writing about, and your favorite character.

Listen to the sound of rain whether recorded or from an open window.

Wear the same kind of shoes your favorite character would.

Visit a place from  your childhood, and put it into your story.

Make a mixtape of songs that remind you of being seven years old.

The Possibilities and creative ideas are endless.

Lela Interviews Stella Brians

My Interview With Lela!

Original content here:

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-with-stella-brians/28

 Today’s interview is with Stella Brians. Welcome to the blog, Stella. Tell us something about yourself.

Brians Stella1Hello Lela, thank you so much for having me today. I am originally from rainy New England. I am a full time author, and I primarily write Metaphysical Fiction but I also write poetry and other genres.

My husband’s from New England. Lovely part of the country. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My parents are both writers, so the desire to write and be creative was innate. They were always very encouraging and supportive, and I took a writing class instructed by my father. I have always dabbled with writing, but I wrote my first novella when I was sixteen As a child, I spent most of my time reading and I loved going to the library.

Tell us about your writing process.

I am a rather disorganized writer. I make notes in two different notebooks, and on my laptop. A friend suggested Scrivener, but I’m not completely sold on it yet. Sometimes if I am away from home and I get an idea, I will text myself. I am always thinking about the book I am writing, from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep. Something that really helps me stay focused is New Age music or at least something that is low key—like Ray Lynch’s album Deep Breakfast.

I like that “draft” function in my cell phone for jotting down ideas. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

That is difficult to say, because I have a very eclectic reading list going right now. I really enjoy fantasy, like Anne Mccaffrey or Ursula Le Guinn. I also love classics, like Alice in Wonderland or The Secret Garden. I also do a lot of reading in the New Age genre, because that is what I write most of the time.

To write, I would say that I love to write Metaphysical Fantasy, which is officially known as Visionary Fiction. It combines ideas such as Reincarnation, Paganism, and other like spiritual beliefs and blends it with fiction.

I just learned something new and here I am, a fantasy writer. What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about a lot of things, but it is especially important to me that all living things are treated with love and care. That means all animals, all people, and all plants. I am passionate about writing and all creative forms. I think that is vital to keep learning throughout your life, and to never stop reading or being creative.

What is something you cannot live without?

My significant other means the most to me, but if we are talking about objects only I would say it is vital that I have books and my laptop. Of course, having access to running water, clothing, and a way to cook food is very important too.

When you are not writing, what do you do?

When I am not writing, I am usually reading, doing research for my writing, sketching, taking a walk in the woods, or spending time with my significant other.

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

I would have to say that the books in my “Hidden World of Wysteria” Series have had a very positive and transformative effect on me. Writing them has led me to do more research about my spiritual beliefs, and I have been able to work creatively while combining New Age elements with fantasy. Recently I have been working on illustrations for the third book in my series, so it has also released the artistic side of me.

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

The first book in my series, The Paperback Writer of Central Park was inspired by a long visit I had in New York City. It was the summer of 2009, and I took a bus from New Haven to Manhattan. I stayed in hostels and wandered about, writing in a journal. This was a troubling time for me, but it was also a time of healing. I made a friend from England, whose name was Sarah. She shows up in the book as the good friend of the two main characters.

Nature (rain and trees in particular) are very inspiring for me. All kinds of weather and nature have important roles in my books, sometimes as characters. I would say that growing up in New England has enhanced my fascination with nature, it is a very beautiful and peaceful place. Connecticut’s oceans, weather, and sleepy towns were like a blueprint for my world of Wysteria.

What sort of research do you do for your novels?

I read many books on paganism, tree magick, and Earth magick in general. I combine my research with my own experience in life and with my spiritual journey with the Universe.

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I would describe my writing as very gentle and understanding. The characters in my book have usually led troubled lives, and they go through ordeals that they must work through in one way or another. Part of why I decided to write this series is that I wanted people with depression, anxiety, and other life issues to know that they will okay. I want them to know that although the author may not know them personally, but she cares about them. I tend to write in a very poetic, whimsical tone.

Do you have a special place where you write?

Most of the time, I type at my computer but if I am not going to be home for a bit I take a notebook. I can write anywhere as long as it is quiet and not hot.

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

The reoccurring themes in my Hidden World of Wysteria Series (generally speaking) are dealing with mental illness, believing in yourself and finding those who understand you, as well as the New Age element that honors the Earth. The Afterlife is a prevalent theme, and it is discussed in a peaceful and creative way. The answers the main characters seek are complex, and will reveal themselves as the series continues.

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

I think that my work is a combination of the two. The storylines of my series delve into the lives of those who live in Wysteria, and is told by a troubled main character. The setting of the peaceful Wysteria is special, because there is much to discover, and the land is constantly expanding. That, along with the woes of the main character drive the plot.

Basically, in the series the wizard Zeferaus plays an important role as a teacher and Memory Curator. What that means is, he collects memories about New England that have been forgotten or discarded and sews together a world made out of them. That world is Wysteria, the afterlife dimension where much of my books take place.

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer? Why?

For every novel, I have a basic idea and a few characters along with the old ones from the previous books. I jot down my notes and character sketches, and begin to write. I am largely a discovery writer, and keep a document for all changes and store it all together. As I write, I make notes of new characters, places, events, and so forth. This is how my creativity and imagination work best.

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I write from first person, because I have tried other viewpoints and first works best. I feel that it brings out the best in my writing, the characters, and the story. Also I prefer to read novels that are in first person, it is my overall preference.

Do you head-hop?

I usually stay within the mind of one character, but I may write a scene where another character is telling a story.

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Since it is Alaska, I can imagine that the heat will be tolerable. I would settle into an office, and bring my research books, the few novels I am currently reading, and my laptop. I would draw and photograph the Alaskan landscape, its animals, and use this time to write and be at peace.

Talk about your books individually.

Brians paperback writer of central park

The Paperback Writer of Central Park is the first book in my Hidden World of Wysteria Series. It centers around two introverted writers, Elizabeth and River. Elizabeth tells the story in a gentle but honest way.

She is homeless for years in New York City, but lives in hostels from the money she makes as a freelancer. Whenever she is not doing that, she is working on her debut novel. After haphazardly publishing it and getting on her feet, she and her British punk friend Sarah start a writing group they call The Paperback Writers. The group is composed of a motley crew of indie writers, including a shy hippie named River.

Elizabeth and River fall in love, and bring love and understanding to each other’s lives. Throughout the novel, the Paperback Writers stick together and not only self-publish their books but open a tiny bookstore for indies. After Elizabeth and River get married, his parents give them a cottage in Mystic, Connecticut and they open a lighthouse bookstore. The couple discover Zeferaus’s potion room behind their attic bookcase, and are inducted into Wysteria. Towards the end of the book, an intruder is discovered by the intuitive Willow trees and Zeferaus asks for their help.

Brians Wysteria Cover Photo

Wysteria is the second book in my Hidden World of Wysteria Series. The novel is told from the voice of Milo, a young man who has emancipated himself from his abusive father. He lives in a pleasant Massachusetts town, but is lonely. An indigo colored cat with telekinesis and the ability to talk shows up on his doorstep, and from then on Milo’s life is never the same.

He and his girlfriend Lorna begin to have the same dreams of a stone lighthouse by the water, and one day the wizard Zeferaus shows up in their kitchen. He explains that they are old souls, and that it is their time to leave Earth.

They make the decision to pass on, and soon they are settled into Wysteria. Things seem peaceful at first, but an enemy of the wizard is bent on destroying their world. Through defending Wysteria, Milo and Lorna make new friends and convince Zeferaus to open a school for Earth Magick and Spirituality.

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Yes. It was important to me to write a series with the elements of kindness, love, acceptance, and spiritual tolerance.

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I want them to know that they are not alone in their troubles, that there is always someone willing to help. It is my hope that they believe in themselves, in their dreams—which is different for everyone.

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Several elements were present in my decision to self-publish. Over the course of a year, I did an enormous amount of research about publishing, and joined a private online writing group where I spoke to authors and learned as much as I could. I also wrote a paper on self-publishing, and Createspace in particular.

When I was a child, my father self-published his own books through a micro press. He now publishes through Createspace. Throughout my life I have learned from him about writing and publishing. One of his most important lessons was the integrity of self-publishing versus traditional. When you publish independently and by your own merits, you are able to remain true to your word without having to change for the marketing needs of a publishing company. I realize that it is more difficult to get your book noticed on your own, but if you know where to look there are always people willing to help. Often times, independent bookstores will agree to carry a book by an indie author.

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

For me, the greatest advantage is to be able to retain complete rights of my books and to have control over the story, creativity, and design. As a person and author, my individuality is very important to me. I want to always be true to myself and to my creative spirit.

I always greatly appreciate when someone buys my books. It absolutely makes my day. My goal is to have my books help people, and to make a difference.

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

I think that what self-published authors struggle with is the financial ability to promote nearly as much as a traditional publisher. We advertise in smaller but significant ways that are appropriate for our budget and do everything we can to reach readers.

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I write and design my novels with honesty and integrity. I give them a very Earthy, New England feel blended with a sense of calm. Something really important that I would like to pass on to other authors—it is vital to advocate for yourself. Always be polite, but assertive. Ask if you can hang that flyer up, if you may have an interview. And, do not be afraid to give back.

Who designed your book cover/s?

I did! The photo on the cover of The Paperback Writer of Central Park is actually the green in Colchester, Connecticut during autumn. My mother took the cover photo for Wysteria, and it is of the Avery Point Lighthouse in Connecticut. It was very important to me to have that particular lighthouse on the cover, because it inspired the one in my series. I was so grateful for her help.

For the third book, I am going to illustrate the cover and possibly add some illustrations for the interior.

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

I believe that self-published authors can create beautiful, high quality books. It is my opinion that using a matte finish versus a glossy finish really gives your book a professional, high quality look. In my experience, original photographs or hand drawn illustrations add to the level of aestheticism and beauty that indie books are trying to achieve. What I think brings down the quality of a book is when people use stock images or computer illustrations which add a tasteless effect.

As someone who designs her own covers (with input from my daughter, who is an artist), I agree with you about striving for excellence and uniqueness in covers. Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I belong to a private writing group online, and it has been an incredible experience. I have learned a great deal about my writing, the publishing world, and what to do, what not to do. This group is one of the most peaceful places on the internet for people to critique each other’s writing, help each other, or just to hang out. I have met some wonderful writers and made some dear friends.

About Stella Brians

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Stella is the author of her Metaphysical Fantasy Series, The Hidden World of Wysteria. She is currently working on the third book in that series. Stella loves animals, the rain, and reading. She also sketches and paints. To learn more about Stella or request to be interviewed by her about your indie writing, please visit: https://paperbackwriterlife.wordpress.com/about/

To Purchase Her Books:

https://paperbackwriterlife.wordpress.com/the-paperback-writer-store/

Visit Stella on Deviantart!

http://jwriter89.deviantart.com/gallery/